Shure E5c vs. Etymotic ER-4s
Dec 5, 2004 at 8:30 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 62

Zemo

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Yup! I got 'em both right here! Special thanks to Thaddy for loanin' me his beloved ety's! time for busines!!

COMFORT
So, I don't have the flange tips or whatever, just the foamies for the etys, so the flange tips may be different (XP can comment?). The Etys took a couple tries to get seated correctly and deep enough, but once their in, they're in. I wouldn't exactly call these comfortable....my ears get used to it, but putting 'em in and taking 'em out can be downright painful! and for some reason my right ear doesn't like the etys as much as my left does...slides right in on the left, but the right doesn't let 'em go in very far at all. As far as the shure's they're MUCH more comfy. They arn't designed to go into your ear canal like the Ety's, but rather, make a seal around the opening of your ear canal. This is quite a bit more comfy, and, given the right tips, it feels great. Of course, haveing something actually in your ear isn't going to feel as good as full sized cans.

Ety - 3/10
Shure - 7/10

ISOLATION
The Etys are freakin' earplugs! need I say more? The Shure's are similar, but, because they don't go as deep, don't seal as well.

Ety - 11/10
Shure - 10/10

The rest of the tests are conducted using the samples in my "how to listen" guide, found here: http://forums.fix-it.org/viewtopic.php?t=431. Each aspect of sound that is exemplified by each piece is scored below!

Resolution
The Etys are amazing...simply amazing...this makes sense though. Air acts as a filter, cutting out some high frequencies...place the drivers a couple millimeters from your eardrums and you get amazing high end! Decays are delicate and linger in the air, each little pluck of the strings are articulate and detailed, shaker is very realistic and unique...even the shaker's reverb off the studio walls is clearly audible. This song has an amazing acoustic bass sound to it, but....well...that's a discussion for another section...The Shure's resolution isn't up to the level of the Ety's, but still VERY good. Again, each pluck of the bass is distinct. The hammer's in the piano are audible as they strike the strings. The shakes of the shaker arn't as distinct as the Ety's, but still very clear and very obvious.

Ety-10/10
Shure - 9.5/10

Depth
This could be largely due to the fact that the ety's bypass all of the natural distortions caused by the shape for your head/ears, but they don't seem to have the depth and spatialization of other cans/speakers. Depth is still apperent, but it doesn't sound as realistic and "deep"...The shure's were a bit surprising in this area. Maybe due to the full and round sound they give, or maybe due to the fact that they allow the sound to interact with your ear canal....at any rate, the trumpet in this track sounds deeper, and more realistic.

Ety - 6/10
Shure - 8/10

atmosphere
The ety's lack some bass range, and a bit of the midrange (actually, if you look at the frequency response graph, they're nearly flat through this range, but people are just less sensative to that range, so it seems softer than it is...). This lack of low end makes the atmosphere and ambience of the reocrding sound somewhat sterile and anemic. I can see myself growing acustomed to this bass and really enjoying the fact that it's more balanced and defined, but I can't but want more...I can' be drawn into the music as much as i'd like. The shures show a different story. they have an amazingly full and robust sound for such little devices. Very lush and round. I can easily be drawn into the music more. I would like better spatialization, so I can actually hear the environment around me, but that ain't gonna happen.

Ety - 7/10
Shure - 9/10

midrange purity
The ety's arn't doing it for me....I'm listing to this very full, chesty, reverberant and meaty voice, and the ety's clean it up, lighten the low end....not enough meat...sounds almost like a floating head singing music. turning it up too loud helps, but it's not like I'd like it to be! The shure's again, with their full and round low-end, and warm midrange, allow you to hear Livingston Taylor's body contribute to his sound. A good experience, lots of meat!

Ety - 6/10
Shure - 9/10

Naturalness
The ety's sound pretty good here...very natural...the enhanced detail and resolution with these allows me to quite easily pick out the individual sounds and effects, allowing each to sound as detailed and realistic as possible. The shure's also sound quite natural, but, due to the rolled off high end, instruments and sounds don't sound quite as distinct and individual.

Ety - 9/10
Shure - 8/10

transparency
The lack of soundstaging of the etys (again, probably because the elimination of natural distortions) confines the soundstage to a more narrow place, muddying up this very spacious and transparent sounding recording. It's still easy to pick out individual voices, due to the hightened detail and resolution, but I wish there were more space! The same is true of the Shure's. They have a wider soundstage, yet a high end that isn't as crisp.

Ety - 8/10
Shure - 8/10

presence
The etys give an awesome performance here! The click of the keys, the slapback off the studio walls, the tiny little sax nuances (I'm a sax player, we pick up on these things!)...the performance sounds VERY realistic and alive! The Shure's also...they respond quite well to the tiny nuances in the playing, yet take off some of the edge.

Ety - 10/10
Shure - 10/10

visceral impact
Well....with the etys, there is none! I can tell it would be there...I mean, I can HEAR the bass...it's just not as present and upfront as I'd like it! This track is pretty exciting, and without the driving force of the bass guitar and the kick of the drums, it loses some of that excitement. The Shure's got that bass...this track thumps, bounces, rocks, and pops. I love it! I keep having to stop myself from trying to turn it up. The shure is about as "visceral" as you can get from something this tiny...

Ety - 5/10
Shure - 10/10

rhythm and pace
The bright high end and extended detail of these cans lend itself to a fairly exciting and involving listening experience, but again, the lack of bass takes away from the excitement. The bass in the Shures bring this track alive.

Ety - 8/10
Shure - 9.5/10

Focus
Quite good...I thought the lack of soundstaging in the ety might take away from the level of focus, but this was not the case. Again, the hightened detail and resoltuion allows for a very clear image of the instruments, and gives a very definite and crisp seperation of one instrument from another. The shure's also were very focused, yet maybe not as much as the Ety's. It's hard to match that level of resolution!

Ety - 9/10
Shure - 8/10

holographic imaging
Again, going back to the soundstaging in the ety, this is lacking...not much more to say...The shure's perform better, yet soundstaging is still lacking.

Ety - 6/10
Shure - 7/10

transients
Well, not surprisingly, the Ety's handle transients VERY well...then again, how could it be to move a driver that's only a few millimeters quickly? I highly doubt there's ANY music out there that could throw transients faster than ety's could handle them. The same is true of the Shure's. They respond VERY fast, and if I didn't have the ety's to compare them to, I'd say they're the best I've ever heard!

Ety - 10/10
Shure - 9.5/10

bass resonance
This surprised me a little....I was expecting there to be none in the Etys, after listening to the other tracks...but when the bass is all that is going, it sounds very realistic! Not terribly full and visceral, but it's definetly there, and I can definetly hear the body of the bass resonating with each pluck of the string. I really wish I could feel it though! That's where the Shures step in. If I ddin't know any better, I'd say the bass in this track was rattling my chest. Very full and robust, while mainting a rich texture and high level of resolution.

Ety - 7/10
Shure - 10/10

dynamics
stunning..the ety's handle loud and soft VERY well, allowing the dynamic content of the music to really come through. The shures also respond to the music well, allowing the very punchy sound to be all that it should be. I couldn't help but flinch with the punches at the end of this track!

Ety - 10/10
Shure - 10.5/10

other junk
The Ety's have a VERY microphonic cable, which is hard to deal with at times. even tucking it under the shirt still allowed enough microphonics to be annoying. The shure's over the ear design, and softer cable cuts down on microphonics by a LOT, which I appruciate. For the shure's the "memory fit cable" was horrible. I had to constantly re adjust it, and it never sat flat. it always made the cable come off of the back of my ears at a funky angle But, a quick snip snip, and that was all fixed! Hehe....took me all of half hour before I modded the suckers...The Ety's take some time to roll, stick in, and hold, where as the shure's take almost no time at all to pop into place. The shure's are VERY sensative, whereas the Ety's are not. A volume setting of 20 on the Etys is like a volume setting of 11 on the shures. I tried EQ settings with both, and found that I could make the bass more present on the ety's, but it tended to sound sloppy or loose, and rather unenjoyable. EQing the high end of the shures up a bit helps a lot, and makes these more enjoyable!

Also, the build quality of the shure's seems higher. The driver housings are a bit harder material, and the cable is thicker, and more sturdy feeling, yet more flexable.
 
Dec 5, 2004 at 8:30 AM Post #2 of 62

Zemo

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All in all, these are two sets of awesome cans! I gotta hand the crown for the best sub $500 in ear monitor to the Shure E5c's though. The slicker design, bigger bass, and better soundstaging win over the Ety's higher resolution. In fact, after groovin' the shure's for a while, the ety's highs sound almost painfully sharp.

And now, some pics!


in the front!
shures.jpg

Etys.jpg


on the side!
shure.jpg

Ety.jpg


close up
etyear.jpg

shureear.jpg
 
Dec 5, 2004 at 8:31 AM Post #3 of 62

Zemo

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the drivers
drivers.jpg

driver.jpg



The cable leading to the drivers
driverwire.jpg


the cross over/splitter
xover.jpg


the cable from the plug
wires.jpg


and the plugs
plugs.jpg


I'll likely add random comments here and there as I see fit...

Cheers!

-Z
 
Dec 5, 2004 at 12:01 PM Post #5 of 62

cosmopragma

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Thanks for your efforts, Zemo.
I've just downloaded the files linked to your " How to REALLY listen to music " guide and I see that you've already applied MP3Gain.
Any idea why some of the tracks are clipping?
 
Dec 5, 2004 at 12:47 PM Post #7 of 62

iBug

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I use Etymotic ER-4S for 2 years now and ordered E5c a week ago, got it 2 days ago, listened to it for half an hour and now I'm returning it back. I hated the sound of them. It's nothing comparable to Etties and I don't understand the better bass thing. They seemed to have the same amount of bass. I know good bass, my Hi-Fi has great bass but you can't get that with an earphone since good bass isn't just in your ear, it rattles the walls of your room. You feel it with your bones as much as with your ear. And the detail, if you say Ettie has 10/10, I'd say Shure has 5/10 detail. Depth? Depth comes with detail. Shure doesn't have any depth for me since it can't give any high frequencies and most of the room ambience is in those frequencies. Isolation? Shure doesn't have it at all. With Etty I don't hear anything from outside. I'm so lucky that the store has 30 day money back guarantee so I'll be getting my 500$ back. I'm thinking to buy a headphone amplifier with 300$ of it and put it in my pocket so I'll have a better Etty experience with my iPod. I guess the only upgrade I can make with my earphones is UE series. But they are way more expensive and I can't do it right now.
 
Dec 5, 2004 at 2:30 PM Post #8 of 62

cosmopragma

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Quote:

Originally Posted by iBug
It's nothing comparable to Etties and I don't understand the better bass thing. They seemed to have the same amount of bass.
Isolation? Shure doesn't have it at all.



I have them both, and I assume that you didn't get a good seal yet.
In my ears the Etys isolate better, but it's no night and day difference.
And regarding the bass, at least 10 dB difference in the bass response isn't exactly what I'd call the same amount.
 
Dec 5, 2004 at 3:48 PM Post #9 of 62

iBug

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I got a good seal with three flange with Shure. But with Etty, outside, I don't hear anything at all but my music, not the car horns, not the busses passing by. With Shure I was hearing the street noises as well so it's like night and day for me. And about bass response it was not as much as 10 dB's. It didn't sound bassy at all. For example I have a crappy pair of Koss the Plug and it has more bass than Shure. I don't know why Shure costs that much because it sounds worse than my 30$ koss. No treble means no detail. No detail means that I can't enjoy any classical which I mostly listen. They are way too expensive. I really don't get it. In Hi-Fi most of the time when you pay more, you get better sound.
 
Dec 5, 2004 at 5:25 PM Post #10 of 62

mycoman

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I do an extensive amount of air travel. My purchase of the Etys was for that reason. They completely changed the way I feel about long distance air trips. I no longer completely dread 14 hours in the same seat. I find that I can "escape" the feeling of being trapped on a plane during the trip and arrive much more relaxed and fresh. The constant drone of jet engines is a horrible thing for 14 hours.

Because I am an audiophile, I was very interested in the Shure's reported sonic improvements over the Ety's and I also purchased some about two months ago. I bought them just before a trip to SE Asia.

For me, the excitement and expectation were gone for the E5c's as soon as the plane got in the air. I quickly discovered that they are just not the equal of the Ety's in the area of isolation. Not even close. I have always used the flanged tips on the Etys because they insert (with a little moistening) and seal much better in my ears. The Shures just don't isolate as well no matter what tip was used.

For that reason alone, they are no good for my purposes (and they were returned). It matters not what their sonic benefits may be. I never got that far. I use HD650s at home so the Etys are never used except for travel. Perhaps for those that use them in quieter environments, the Shures may be a choice. Not for me.

BTW... I was not at all impressed with the build quality of these things. I mean, I originally thought even the Etys were cheesey for $260 but eventually got over their appearance and details once I heard them. I definitely thought the Shures lacked a general look and feel of quality for something that cost $500. Everything about them seemed cheap in some way... from the cables to the ear piece moldings. Guess I'm not into clear stuff.
 
Dec 5, 2004 at 5:57 PM Post #11 of 62

Krishna

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A few questions about the Shure's:

Does it use filters? I hate the idea of having to replace fiters every few months.
Also isn't it possible to put ety triflange tips on the E5c's? I have heard that the ety flanges are better in almost everyway, and I am pretty sure that you can put them on E5c's. This may be a factor in the seal that you get.
 
Dec 5, 2004 at 6:03 PM Post #12 of 62

kyrie

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Quote:

No treble means no detail.


Ah, another member of team treble=detail.
rolleyes.gif
 
Dec 5, 2004 at 6:46 PM Post #13 of 62

HNoone

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I have the shure e5c, and they just seem sort of boring, you know? the music just doesn't have the same life that it has with other cans, sorr of dead an d flat soundign. anyonie else notice this? theres a lot of bass but something semms missing.
 
Dec 5, 2004 at 7:09 PM Post #14 of 62

TWIFOSP

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Quote:

Originally Posted by iBug
I got a good seal with three flange with Shure. But with Etty, outside, I don't hear anything at all but my music, not the car horns, not the busses passing by. With Shure I was hearing the street noises as well so it's like night and day for me. And about bass response it was not as much as 10 dB's. It didn't sound bassy at all. For example I have a crappy pair of Koss the Plug and it has more bass than Shure. I don't know why Shure costs that much because it sounds worse than my 30$ koss. No treble means no detail. No detail means that I can't enjoy any classical which I mostly listen. They are way too expensive. I really don't get it. In Hi-Fi most of the time when you pay more, you get better sound.


If you're hearing all that outside enviromental noise, you didn't get a good seal. This is also evident by your description of the bass. If you already retured them, oh well. If not, you should really play around till you get a good seal. From the way you just described things, I can almost asure you that you did not get a good seal. The shures are muddy when you don't have a good seal, but once you get it, the bass tightens up, the highs are present, albiet slightly masked by the bass, which can helped with equilization.

After all that, some people will still prefer the Etymotics, but at least give the shure the fair chance to shine by making sure they are being used correctly
smily_headphones1.gif


Cheers and happy listening.
 

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